The value of a college education is immeasurable. A college education serves as a lifetime investment providing a college student with lifelong memories, a wide range of learning experiences and a degree that increases his or her marketability within the job market.
Families understand how essential higher education is for creating a greater quality of life (from establishing a career to increasing earning potential). But the cost to attend college is steep, and fewer parents can afford to help pay for an education.
If you’re concerned about how to help your child afford a quality college education, you’re not alone. Use the following guide to help the decision-making process as your family faces the high price of attending college:
Financial Aid Eligibility
Financial aid can help lessen the burden of paying for college, but qualifying for it can be complicated and difficult to obtain. Keep in mind these strategies for maximizing your student’s financial aid eligibility:
- Save money and put assets in the parent’s name, not the child’s name.
- Pay off consumer debt, including high credit card balances and car loans.
- Reduce income, avoiding artificial increases in income.
- Don’t overestimate your income on FAFSA. Report adjusted gross income, rather than gross income.
- Avoid taking money out of a retirement fund to help pay for college and make larger contributions to retirement funds (to reduce income).
- File as soon as possible after Jan. 1.
- Be mindful of selling assets and capital gains, which can increase income and decrease eligibility.
Loan and Grant Options
FinAid.org defines an education loan as a form of financial aid that must be repaid with interest. Loans are categorized in three major categories: (1) student loans (Stafford and Perkins loans), (2) parent loans (PLUS loans) and private student loans (or alternative student loans). Grants, such as state grants and the TEACH grant, can also help reduce college expenses and don’t need to be repaid.
- Subsidized Stafford Loan: Interest doesn’t accrue while the student’s in school. Also, maximums rise the longer a dependent student stays in school.
- Unsubsidized Stafford Loan: This loan is available to any student, regardless of need. Yet, interest accrues while the student’s in school.
- Federal Perkins Loan: This type of loan is made directly to students without a co-signature by a parent. Students can wait nine months after graduation to start repayment and have 10 years to repay the loan.
- PLUS Loan: As a non-need-based loan, this type of loan is made to parents, rather than students. Credit history determines loan eligibility. The repayment period can extend up to 10 years and the interest rate is typically fixed.
- Private Loan: Private loans include bank lines of credit, home-equity loans and Signature Student loans. Keep in mind, repayment typically starts immediately. Try to exhaust federal student loan eligibility first because federal loans are less expensive and offer better terms.
- Pell Grant: The Pell Grant is awarded primarily to low-income families.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: Administered by colleges, this needs-based grant awards up for $4,000 per year. Recipients may also have to participate in the federal work-study program.
Like grants, scholarships are a type of student financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. Scholarships are generally awarded based on special academic, athletic or artistic qualifications. Scholarships may also be awarded to students interested in studying a particular subject matter, minority students, students who are part of an underrepresented group or students who live in a low-income area.
GCU Scholarship Opportunities
Grand Canyon University recognizes the fiscal challenge of financing college and strives to make a quality education affordable for all families. GCU offers various generous scholarship opportunities that can significantly reduce tuition rates. High school students can also help fund college with raise.me, an online platform where high school students can earn micro-scholarships for individual achievements. Students can achieve goals to earn these micro-scholarships and track earnings on a live homepage feed. Go to raise.me to create a portfolio and start following GCU today!
Visit Tuition and Financing on gcu.edu to learn more about financial aid.
Additional resources for more information: